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The Stone Canal: Book Two: The Fall Revolution Series [Hardcover]

Ken MacLeod
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Sep 1996
Jonathan Wilde a 21st century anarchist agitator is dead, but his clone remembers all his secrets, and is looking for the man who killed him. David Reid lived through wars and revolutions and through the Al's catastrophic transcendence to build New Mars, and is not going to let the Al's come back and take it away. A debut novel.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (5 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099558912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099558910
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,479,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Since graduating from Glasgow University in 1976, Ken MacLeod has worked as a computer analyst in Edinburgh. He now writes full-time.

Product Description


This man's going to be a major writer (Iain M. Banks)

Plenty of clever surprises... a compelling read (STARBURST)

MacLeod's ideas are always interesting and his descriptive prose is elegant, deceptively simple and extremely vivid (SFX)

MacLeod's offbeat imagination and witty narrative make this a rewarding read (NEW SCIENTIST) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The acclaimed second novel in the Fall Revolution sequence. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 31 Jan 2001
By A Customer
I've just finished re-reading this novel and no, I was right, this is one of the best books I've read for ages.
This is a brilliant mixture of political philosophy, nanotechnology, people-as-software and a dozen other superb ideas.
This was the first of Ken MacLeod's books that I read and is much stronger than any of his others.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Stone Canal has a far wider scope than MacLeod's debut, The Star Fraction. There are two threads to the novel, set centuries and light-years apart; in one thread, MacLeod expands on Star Fraction's vision of the near future, tracking an uneasy friendship from Edinburgh University in the 1970s to the end of the characters' lives towards the end of the 21st century. The second thread, set on a distant planet some centuries into the future, sees these two characters resurrected in the form of clones. New Mars is not in our solar system and eighty percent of its inhabitants are sentient machines - a very different environment from turn-of-the-century London, and this uneasy friendship therefore takes on a very different form...
I found this novel a great improvement over Star Fraction - MacLeod's writing skills have certainly developed, and the human characters are rendered in a far more realistic manner (I found Moh Kohn, the main character in Star Fraction, to be little more than a communist Case). The juxtaposition of the modern-day storyline with the far future is most effective, though if you aren't interested in the politics of the future you may find the novel a little tedious. I myself find MacLeod's politics fascinating, and his exploration of how advanced technology, electronic intelligence and space colonisation will affect the political climate of the 21st century is far more authentic than many other authors who deal with the same themes (ie John Barnes, Neal Stephenson etc). Unfortunately MacLeod hasn't yet learned how to seriously grip a reader in the same way as his friend Mr I M Banks, but it would be unfair to expect that much of him. MacLeod's work stands on its own two feet, and very effectively at that!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Steven Fouch VINE VOICE
Macleod's second novel (not his debut!) is an interesting, if flawed work. Spanning time from the 1970's to some indefinite point in the far future, it follows the life of Jonathan Wilde, an incidental character from the "Star Fraction" through the revolutions, wars, and turmoils that formed the historical backdrop to that novel. Like "The Sky Ships" it also starts with the same group of seventies students in a Glasgow pub discussing anarchism. It ends with a bridge into the "Cassini Division", and as such is the real link between Macleod's first and later novels.
Wilde is a character reminiscent of Abelard Lindsey in Bruce Sterling's "Schismatrix". Like Lindsey he survives through political and social upheaval, inadvertently influencing many followers who come to view him as a libertarian anarchist messiah. However, there the resemblance stops. Where Sterling's novel is a complex analysis of a bewildering array of metaphysical concepts, with a cosmological climax, "The Stone Canal" is more prosaic and parochial, but none the worse for that.
There are some sophisticated political and scientific ideas being bandied around - from free market anarchism al la extreme Thatchersim, worker's stateism and British Republicanism, to wormholes, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. Cyberpunk with a very British feel. However, the novel falls apart when what appears to be the main narrative falls by the wayside to Wilde's reminiscences of his life, and leaving the characters that were emerging as central to play only a minor role in an apparently rushed dénouement.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A bit lopsided but still way ahead of the pack 28 Oct 1999
There are really two novels here -- one a gritty, futuristic picaresque straight out of the Bruce Sterling tradition (part "Schismatrix", part "Taklamakan"), and the other a down-to-Earth tale of people and ideology that owes more to Iain without-the-M Banks (think "Espedair Street" with a bit of "The Business").
The former is stronger, with some beautifully evocative description and brilliant, snappy dialogue, as well as a tongue-in-cheek yet sincere take on the anarcho-capitalism that seems to be the in thing in SF these days. The colony world of New Mars is one of the most real places I've found in SF for a while; its inhabitants are not just three-dimensional but fun to hang out with.
The latter is at its best, story-wise, when its characters are excitable 1970s undergraduates; as it follows them into the next century they seem to fade against the brightly painted background of "Snow Crash"- style nation-dismantling and Prague-style reactionary backlash. It picks up again at the end of the next century, as it jumps closer to the inevitable connection with the first storyline; there are some throwaway ideas in there as brilliant, and as surprising, as you'd find in, say, Greg Egan.
The ending isn't quite satisfying, but it's worth it for the ride -- and besides, you can always go on and read "The Cassini Division".
It's not MacLeod's best work, but it's better than the best work of a lot of authors out there. And having read some of his other stuff, I know it gets better from here.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Stone Canal
Well thought out and written, not his best but worth reading if you are into near future scifi
Published on 22 Nov 2009 by P. J. Frost
3.0 out of 5 stars Good 2nd half of the book, tedious start
I bought this book based on the recommendations here.

Not sure if its the same book - iy takes forever (1/2 the book) to get a decent story going and the Sci-Fi is... Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2009 by CjW
4.0 out of 5 stars Slick
The Stone Canal is a very crisply written novel about life on, and life before, the planet New Mars, which is in a system some distance from Earth. Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2004 by Tom Douglas
4.0 out of 5 stars Sociology not Politics
After a couple of times through the Fall Revolution cycle I finally realised that Macleod isn't really a radical left winger. At least not in any traditional sense. Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2004 by Russell
3.0 out of 5 stars Ideas and Ideology
This is the second MacLeod book I've read, and once again he impresses me with his breadth of concepts, original ideas, depth of political insight, and rigorous plotting. Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2003 by Patrick Shepherd
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cyberpunk/Sci-Fi creation story of a creation story etc...
Best Scifi/cyberpunk book i've read since Neuromancer .In this book the Author has combined many popular theories for creation and technology such as exotic theories in physics and... Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2003 by James Pocock
4.0 out of 5 stars an interesting, if flawed work
Macleod's second novel (not his debut!) is an interesting, if flawed work. Spanning time from the 1970's to some indefinite point in the far future, it follows the life of Jonathan... Read more
Published on 18 July 2000 by Steven Fouch
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracker if you like authors like Iain M Banks
Non-stop from 20th century left-wing politics all the way through to wormholes and such.
Published on 25 Mar 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Politics, Space and Civil War - a true space opera
In Stone Canal Ken MacLeod again returns to his future vision of England. A awespiring book which combines the best features of science fiction: robots, gadgets, hope, despair... Read more
Published on 24 Mar 1999
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